NASA’s CAPSTONE Mission Launches to the Moon
A small NASA-financed spacecraft launched from New Zealand on Tuesday, kicking off the space agency’s plans to send astronauts back to the moon in a few years.
The spacecraft, called CAPSTONE, is about the size of a microwave oven. It will study a specific orbit where NASA plans to build a small space station for astronauts to stop at before and after going to the moon’s surface.
At 9:55 p.m. local time (5:55 a.m. Eastern time), a 59-foot-tall rocket carrying CAPSTONE lifted off from a launchpad along the eastern coast of New Zealand. Although the mission is gathering information for NASA, it is owned and operated by a private company, Advanced Space, based in Westminster, Colo.
For Artemis, NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the moon, NASA decided to include a small space station around the moon. That would make it easier for astronauts to reach more parts of the moon.